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Guru Purnima 2023: Here’s all about the historical background and legends attached to festival

Guru Purnima, a revered festival among Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists, is dedicated to honouring gurus or teachers. This day holds immense significance in all three religions and communities and will be observed on July 3 in 2023.

Apart from India, Guru Purnima is also celebrated in Nepal and Bhutan, with Nepal even recognizing it as the official Teacher’s Day. An important figure associated with Guru Purnima is Ved Vyasa, a symbol of the guru-shikshya (teacher-student) bond. To commemorate his birth anniversary, Guru Purnima is also referred to as Vyasa Purnima.

Historical background and importance

Originally, Guru Purnima was a celebration of spiritual and academic teachers. The name “Guru Purnima” is derived from two sources: ‘guru,’ meaning a remover of darkness, and ‘purnima,’ referring to the full moon night on which the festival falls. In ancient times, teachers were considered to be the ones who illuminated their disciples’ lives by dispelling darkness.

Guru Purnima is observed during Ashadha in the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in June or July according to the Gregorian calendar. Traditionally, disciples would perform pujas (rituals) for their teachers and even observe fasting in their honour on this day.

Legends of Guru Purnima

The practice of Guru Purnima is associated with several legends. In the Yogic tradition, it is believed that Lord Shiva imparted his wisdom to people on this day, becoming the first recognized guru. Another popular story is the birth of Ved Vyasa, who shared the knowledge of the Vedas with his four disciples. In Buddhism, it is believed that Buddha delivered his first sermon to his followers in Sarnath on Guru Purnima. Additionally, Jains believe that Mahavira, one of the prominent Tirthankaras, found his first follower on this auspicious day.

Guru Purnima celebrates the profound role of a teacher in dispelling ignorance and guiding students towards higher realms of knowledge. It is a tribute to the wisdom and knowledge that teachers possess and impart. The festival emphasises the importance of sharing knowledge as the path to transcendence.


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